Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

How well do these surprisingly affordable devices compare to traditional units from an audiologist? What impact will a new law have on hearing devices?

How well do these surprisingly affordable devices compare to traditional units from an audiologist? What impact will a new law have on hearing devices?

The risk of hearing loss for an older American is 10 to 20 times greater than the risk of heart disease, and 100 times higher than the risk of getting cancer. Of 30 million Americans who have hearing loss, a mere 20 percent get hearing aids. Hearing devices aren’t covered by Medicare or most insurance, and their high cost and perceived social stigma prohibit many seniors from seeking help, even when they struggle to hear.

Currently, dispensers and audiology practices are prone to presenting consumers with a limited range of hearing aids. They may all be from one manufacturer that guarantees incentives for meeting sales goals. Dispensers may then employ proprietary software to program the units, holding customers hostage for follow-up adjustments.

However, a recently enacted law called the Over-the-Counter Hearing Act seeks to make hearing aids both more affordable and more available. The bipartisan-supported measure removes the requirement for patients to see a health care professional to purchase hearing aids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve the devices for over-the-counter (OTC) sales online and in your local drugstore. You’ll be able to buy hearing aids without a prescription or a medical exam. The FDA estimates it will take at least another year before regulations are set and approved units for those with mild to moderate hearing loss (the levels covered in the bill) will be available.

Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)

In the meantime, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are already widely sold for much less than traditional hearing aids. Retailing from tens of dollars to several hundred, a bewildering array of the devices are marketed as “sound amplifiers for people with normal hearing,” which is currently the only legal option even though some are technologically comparable with hearing aids.

Take Your Own Hearing Test at Home

For less than $70, you can take your own hearing test at home with just a computer with an internet connection and the iHear Test. It’s the first and only hearing test cleared by the FDA for use at home.

If you don’t want to pay a doctor for a hearing test, but you wonder where you stand, the iHear test could be the answer. The test can sense background noise and automatically pauses if ambient noise interferes. Calibrated earphones ensure continuous accuracy.

Best yet, your spouse or partner can take the test for free as a service that’s included. Two hearing test credits for up to two users are included, and you may buy more credits for up to five users. The test will score hearing in each ear according to World Health Organization guidelines.

Do PSAPs stand up well against much more expensive devices sold by hearing specialists? A groundbreaking study implies that they do.

The research study involved 42 older adults aged 60 to 85 with mild to moderate hearing loss. First, they were evaluated for how well they could hear and repeat a random series of sentences. Participants tested six devices: an expensive hearing aid that is commonly recommended, four PSAPs with good electroacoustic properties and a fifth PSAP commonly sold in drugstores (which was also by far the least expensive). During device testing in a sound booth, background conversational noise was added.

Three of the PSAPs were nearly as good as the $1,910 hearing aid. The Sound World Solutions C550+ and the Soundhawk, both $349.44, did an admirable job. Performing nearly as well as the two frontrunners was the Etymotic BEAN at $299.99. The Tweak Focus, which retails for $269.99, trailed the leaders in fourth place. Tellingly, the $29.99 MSA 30X Sound Amplifier actually decreased the subjects’ ability to hear the words.

Pros and Cons of OTC Hearing Aids

It appears that good, affordable hearing devices are already on the market and available without a prescription. Does the new law solve a problem that doesn’t exist?

Hearing aid manufacturers and distributors lobbied against the bill, fearing that more people with hearing loss will gravitate to other means for getting help.

The gun lobby also opposed the bill on the grounds that hunters, who use hearing amplifiers to detect their prey, would be subject to further regulation and an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.

However, although there are good PSAPs currently on the market to compete with expensive hearing aids, barriers to their use exist. Many seniors are not aware that affordable PSAPs can work as well as pricey hearing aids, so they bypass PSAPs entirely. As the study showed, some PSAPs make hearing worse than not using anything. And setting some PSAPs at the wrong volume level could literally blow out your hearing, since they don’t have to meet standards for loudness.

By standardizing the industry, consumers will be able to more easily compare different brands and models, allowing them to shop around for the best price on similar products. Dangerous noise levels will be eliminated. More people who need hearing aids will get them because  costly barriers, such as seeing a physician and having to choose from expensive products, will vanish.

Audiologists Increase User Satisfaction

Many hearing providers dispute that cost is a major factor in hearing aid adoption. They cite statistics from countries such as Norway, Sweden and the U.K. where hearing aids are provided for free or nearly so. The adoption rate in these countries is a mere five percent or so higher than the U.S. If cost is not the factor we might intuitively imagine it is, then what prevents people with hearing loss from getting help?

Influences such as social acceptance, product aesthetics and sound quality play an outsize role, according to Amyn M. Amlani, Ph.D., an expert on price elasticity and hearing aids.

“The primary factor for uptake is the patient’s perceived value,” says Dr. Amlani. “This value stems from the services provided by the practitioner and includes counseling, rehabilitation, real-ear measurements, and the inclusion of the family and significant other as part of the treatment process.”

A recent study from Indiana University published in the March issue of the American Journal of Audiology seems to back up Amlani’s findings. Participants included 154 adults aged 55 to 79 with mild to moderate hearing loss. Patients were split into three groups: one got a hearing aid with the services of an audiologist; another was told they got an OTC, preprogrammed device (actually the exact same aid the first group was given, without the fitting); and the control group got a placebo device with no amplification, fitted by a professional.

After six weeks, researchers compared user satisfaction and hearing aid usage. Participants in both of the first groups reported better hearing with their units. But surprisingly, the OTC group was both less likely to use their hearing aids during the trial, and less likely to buy them afterward. While 81 percent of the audiologist group reported they were likely to buy the hearing aids at the conclusion of the trial, only 55 percent of the OTC group said the same.

When the OTC group was offered a four-week follow-up with an audiologist after the initial study, satisfaction increased significantly, and more patients decided to purchase their hearing aids after initially declining the offer.

The takeaway may be good news for audiologists worried that OTC hearing aids will put them out of business. If they promote and endorse the less expensive hearing aids, it could translate into many more patients in need of their services.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

What Does the IRS Know and Do I Have to Tell Them?

What Does the IRS Know and Do I Have to Tell Them?

Lots of seniors are hiding a little something from the IRS: cash income from a side job is one of the most common. But can the tax man find out, and is a small amount perfectly legal?

Many older Americans are taking part in the gig economy. Whether it’s hiring yourself out as a handyman or renting out a spare room, you put the cash in your purse or wallet and then forget about it. But should you be reporting it at tax time? And can the IRS find out about past years when you didn’t mention it on your return?

The IRS estimates that it loses hundreds of billions of dollars per year in unreported income. That’s not surprising, considering all the income that, under the law, you are supposed to report. If you babysit your grandchildren, then you are legally a childcare provider. Did you barter or exchange something with a neighbor? The IRS can legally tax you on it. How about those bingo winnings? They’re subject to taxation, too.

Games of Chance

Many seniors are surprised to learn that gambling winnings are taxable income, whether from a bingo game, raffle, casino, racetrack, lottery or scratch-off card. They’re all supposed to be reported on line 21 of your Form 1040.

Taxes may be withheld from your winnings at professional gambling venues such as casinos, racetracks and the state lottery. Bingo winnings of $1,200 and up are subject to a rather stiff 28 percent withholding rate. If you’re playing one dollar cards at the local senior center and you get lucky, well, you’re supposed to report that as income.

If your winnings are in the form of property or prizes instead of cash, you will owe tax for fair market value. Say that vacation for two to Greece is worth $8,000; you’ll have to pay taxes on that amount just as if you won it in cash.

However, you get to take a deduction on your losses. Did you spend $30 on cards before winning the $50 jackpot? You only owe tax on $20. Wait a minute, that deduction only counts for gambling winnings. If you lost $300 on the ponies without winning a thing, the IRS will not let you apply it against the $400 you made driving for Uber.

Self-Employment Income

But wait, you don’t have to report income if it’s under $600, right? Wrong. A Form 1099 is issued for income other than wages, salary and tips. The minimum amount that must be reported varies depending on the type of income, but it’s $600 for an independent contractor. This leads many taxpayers to assume they don’t owe taxes on lesser amounts earned while self-employed, but legally ANY amount you receive must be reported, regardless of whether or not a form is required.

Will You Be Audited?

Where does the IRS draw the line for audits? All tax returns are put through a software program that shows how closely they adhere to statistical norms. If the machine flags a return, three layers of review by human beings determine if further action is taken. Four things are most likely to land you in the dreaded spotlight.

  1. Failing to report all of the income that the IRS knows about. It can be hard to keep track of all the sources of income you might have, making this a common mistake. Don’t forget to include brokerage accounts (distributions, interest, dividends) and Form 1099s such as from a job back in the spring that you held for a month.

  2. Stepping outside the rules for foreign accounts. The IRS takes a dim view of any American trying to hide money outside the country. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires you to name the institution holding funds and the highest dollar amount of your account in the prior year. Assets of $50,000 or more merit reporting on a Form 8938. Additionally, foreign banks must tell the IRS about American asset holders. Just holding assets in a foreign bank will get you additional scrutiny from the IRS, which is always on the lookout for someone trying to hide income offshore.

  3. Fudging business expenses. If your return shows business travel more than 20 percent above the norm for your profession, the IRS will take a good look. Same for take-home cars (used in your business but driven home at the end of the day) without specific reasons for deductions related to their use.

  4. Making more than $200,000. The IRS currently audits about 1 percent of taxpayers who make less than $200,000, and nearly 4 percent of those earning above that level. If you pass the $1 million mark in earnings, your chance of an audit increases to 12.5 percent. It stands to reason that their return on investment is greater for higher earners. It’s the same for business returns, where only 1 percent of corporations with assets under $1 million are audited, but kick that up to $10 million or more in assets and the likelihood of an audit increases to 17.6 percent.

Selling Online

What about sites like eBay? If you’re essentially hosting an online garage sale, it’s one of the few times when the IRS isn’t interested in your earnings. The litmus test is if you bought the item for more than you’re selling it for, you’re in the clear.

If your eBay dealings are more like a hobby, you have to report the income, but you can’t use losses to offset other income. Whether it’s a hobby or a business is a gray area, but the IRS will look at how often you sell, how much you earn and how much time you spend on it.

A Form 1099-K will be generated from the eBay site for anyone with more than $20,000 in gross sales and 200 or more transactions. Conversely, on a site like Etsy that features specialty items sold for a profit, a Form 1099-K will be produced for each vendor regardless of the amount of sales.

How the IRS Knows You Cheated

We can be fairly certain the IRS isn’t aware that we traded babysitting our friends’ kids for their parents staining our deck. But what about those cash payments? One of the oldest tricks in the book is to cash a check received as payment for a small job at the financial institution where it was issued to avoid having it show up in your account. But what if you deposit some of the cash? And how about that little business you run on the internet?

  • Large bank deposits. If you deposit more than $10,000 in cash into a bank or credit union account within 24 hours, the institution must report the deposit to the IRS. This report could trigger an examination of all your deposit activity to search for money laundering or illegal sales (such as drugs). The same is true if you make several large deposits that are less than $10,000. Known as “structuring” or “smurfing,” it’s criminal to purposely avoid reporting limits, even if the money is from a legal source. If the IRS suspects you’re guilty of such activity, it can seize your cash.

  • T-account analysis. Another trigger for a closer look by the IRS is when your sources of income appear to be insufficient for your living expenses. We’re not talking about the $20 splurge on a night out, or how you saved up enough money for a new fridge. Rather, the IRS is looking for an imbalance of $10,000 or more. It’s called a T-account analysis, and it’s the test that tripped up Al Capone.

  • Website and e-commerce transactions. Online business activity leaves a trail of clues for the IRS to follow. Agents can easily check what forms of payment the business accepts, what services or products are sold, and quarterly or annual income.

  • Small business profits. Does the IRS know you really had 29 (seven of whom paid in cash) clients instead of 22 at the dog grooming business you run from home? Not likely. But if you’re operating a major business, agents can compare your gross income and profit ratios to those of similar businesses reported on such sites as com. If you’re taking major deductions for travel and expenses while generating little profit on sizable gross income, expect a knock at your door followed by plenty of questions.

  • Matching tax documents. Don’t ever try to avoid reporting income that is independently reported to the IRS. Statements such as forms 1099 and W-2 are duplicated and sent to the feds, whose automated software will catch any discrepancies.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

New Surgical Methods for Problem Hearts

New Surgical Methods for Problem Hearts

Heart repair methods are changing with technology, and you or someone you love may benefit from one of these new treatments.

If you experience fatigue, shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat and lightheadedness, it could be due to mitral valve regurgitation (MVR). This condition stems from the failure of the heart’s mitral valve to close completely, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart. If MVR is significant, blood can’t efficiently move through the heart or to the rest of the body.  

How to Lower Your Risk of a Heart Attack

Are you among the mere 3 percent of Americans who follow the four recommendations, below, for preventing a heart attack?

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Get your body mass index below 25.
  3. Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.
  4. Exercise vigorously at least 150 minutes a week.

Watch this video to get more tips from the Mayo Clinic on heart attack prevention:

Mild regurgitation can generally be left untreated, but more severe cases can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Your doctor may prescribe drugs or recommend replacing or clipping shut the valve. While the clipping procedure isn’t new, it used to take place in an operating room under general anesthesia.

Now, a new type of mitral valve clip can be inserted via a catheter. “This procedure is appropriate for high-surgical-risk MVR patients,” Tabrizchi says. “It may involve a short hospital stay to assess the effectiveness of the procedure. Patients tend to feel better right away and have an improved quality of life.”

Atrial Fibrillation

Warning Signs of a Woman’s Heart Attack

Women do not experience heart attacks like their male counterparts. Women may not have chest pressure, but instead may experience “shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue,” according to Nieca Goldberg, M.D. and medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. “Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure.”

That may be because a woman’s heart attack may be triggered by a temporary coronary artery spasm or minor blood clot. Either can stop blood flow to the heart.

The signs of a woman’s heart attack may be subtle. Although heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., women may attribute their symptoms to acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. But in the event of a heart attack, you need help right away. If you or someone you love experiences any of the following symptoms, dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Nine percent of Americans over age 65 have arrhythmia, according to the CDC. The most common type is atrial fibrillation (AFib).

“AFib is an irregular beating of the upper heart chambers, which causes clots to form within those chambers,” says Tabrizchi. “The clots can leave the heart and become lodged anywhere in the body, but the primary risk is to the brain, which results in ischemic strokes.”

Ischemic strokes are responsible in about 87 percent of stroke cases, according to the American Heart Association, and the risk of stroke increases with age.

Treatment for AFib usually includes anticoagulants to prevent clots. However, such blood thinners involve risk. “Some patients tend to have significant bleeding as an adverse effect of these medicines to the point where they require blood transfusions,” Tabizchi says. “People with severe arthritis who have to take anti-inflammatory medication, for example, are at a very high risk for bleeding.”

That bleeding can happen anywhere in the body, but if it's in the brain, it causes a hemorrhagic stroke.

Catheters come to the rescue once again, delivering a safe alternative shown to reduce strokes in clinical trials. Dubbed the WATCHMAN device, this type of catheter resembles a tiny umbrella and is placed in the left atrial appendage, the pouch in the atrium where clots tend to form. The procedure is called left atrial appendage closure (LAAC).

The patient requires general anesthesia for doctors to insert a catheter into the upper leg and thread it up to the heart. The procedure takes an hour on average, and patients spend a day in the hospital. They also initially need anticoagulants, but these can usually be tapered off after about six months.

However, the procedure isn’t for everyone. “The WATCHMAN is very expensive,” admits Tabrizchi. “There are strict criteria in place regarding which patients are candidates for this procedure.”

People who don’t tolerate anticoagulants well are candidates, and so are people with a history of falling. “People who fall may hit their head or cause serious injury to other parts of the body that result in bleeding,” Tabrizchi clarifies.

Post-Procedure Heart Care

Any heart procedure requires special care afterward. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice, and take good care of your heart muscle. Improving your diet and exercising (with your doctor’s approval) are the most common recommendations for pampering your heart and boosting your health


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, June 25, 2018

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

June 5 – Kathleen Kennedy
American Film Producer

June 5 – Kathleen Kennedy

Power producer Kathleen Kennedy has been president of Lucasfilm since 2012, when it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company for more than $4 billion. You might remember her work: iconic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or the Jurassic Park franchise (two of which sit in the top ten highest-grossing films of the 90s). Kennedy’s career spans more than 60 films, and she’s been nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Kennedy is not of the glamourous Hyannis Port branch of the clan, but Dad was a judge and Mom a one-time theatre actress who settled down in Berkeley, California, where Kathleen was born. She majored in telecommunications and film at San Diego State University, taking a job at the local Redding, CA radio station after graduation, where she made the rounds as camera operator, video editor, floor director and production coordinator.

Ready for the big time, Kennedy moved to (where else?) Los Angeles and found a job as production assistant to the man who was executive producer of Steven Spielberg’s 1941. Spielberg noticed her talent (not in a Harvey Weinstein way) and hired her as his secretary. For typing. Really. She was lousy at typing but had phenomenal production ideas, gaining industry cred as associate to Spielberg on Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.

Kennedy has been a member of the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute, and won a Women in Film Crystal Award for helping expand the role of women in the entertainment industry. She also knows everyone worth knowing in the entire motion picture industry.

Hot tip: If any of the grandchildren are interested in a film career, they might try “bumping into” Kennedy at Comic Con, where she has been known to put in an appearance.

June 10 – John Edwards
American Lawyer and Politician

June 10 – John Edwards

Well before the MeToo movement and on the heels of “I’m just out here hiking the Appalachian Trail” Mark Sanford, the other Carolina (North) had its own political love scandal. Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004 and candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008, John Edwards was near the top before he fell from grace.

A football star in high school with boyish good looks, Edwards was the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in textile technology in 1974 before earning his Juris Doctor form the University Of North Carolina School Of Law with honors (essentially proving you can have an undergrad degree in basket weaving and still become an attorney).

Edwards was a brilliant litigator, winning against seemingly impossible odds, establishing precedent after taking cases nobody else wanted. In 1993, he founded his own firm in Raleigh with a friend and became known as the top plaintiffs’ attorney in the state of North Carolina. He won impressive awards arguing for clients against corporations, and earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s national award for public service.

Edwards’ career in politics was due in part to winning a huge case against a pool-cover manufacturer, and in part to death of his son, Wade. He won a U.S. Senate seat in 1998 even though he was considered the underdog. In the Senate, Edwards sponsored 203 bills. He supported such liberal causes as college for all, abortion rights, universal healthcare, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and a carbon neutral push to slow global warming.

His tenure in the Senate ended in 2004 when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and Edwards took time off to care for her, as well as promoting a program aimed to assist youth in fighting poverty.

Unfortunately, Edwards will also be remembered for his affair and child out of wedlock a few years later. While his wife’s cancer returned and had metastasized to her bones and lung, Edwards lied about his paternity of the child until January of 2010. His wife, Elizabeth, legally separated from him and died of metastatic breast cancer in December of that year at age 61.

June 13 – Tim Allen

June 13 – Tim Allen

Guess who changed his name from “Timothy Alan Dick”? Yes! And we don’t blame him one bit, do we? The star of many movies and television shows, including parts as Tim the Toolman in Home Improvement and Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing, you might also recognize him as the voice of Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear.

Born in Denver, Allen’s real estate agent father died in a car crash when his son was 11. A couple of years after, his mother moved her brood to Michigan when she married her high school sweetheart.

Allen started his career in comedy on a dare in 1975 when he took part in a comedy night at a club outside of Detroit. It must have gone well, because he moved to Los Angeles to become a regular at The Comedy Store. Although he once told a magazine, “I can only play a part if I can draw on personal experience, and that well can go dry pretty quickly,” Allen soon became successful.

Allen is a licensed amateur radio operator and Republican, supporting Trump in the presidential election. Interesting, because in the 1970s he was arrested for possession of cocaine, pleaded guilty after coughing up the names of other dealers, and was a guest of the Sandstone Federal Correctional Institution for more than two years.

June 15 – Xi Jinping
Eternal Ruler of the Communist Party of China

June 15 – Xi Jinping

Okay, that’s not his official title but he really is sometimes referred to as the “paramount leader” since he controls the state, the military and the Party in communist China. And he has great hair that doesn’t fly a foot off his head in the wind.

Probably just a nice guy who worked his way up the ladder, right? Wrong. Very wrong. He was born in Beijing, where things started out well. His father held a series of posts, including propaganda chief(!), vice-premier and vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress. Then, when Xi was 10, his dad got purged from the Party and was forced to work in a factory in another city.

Xi was in school three years later when the Cultural Revolution halted all secondary classes so students could criticize and fight their teachers. Xi’s family home was looted by student militants who killed one of his sisters. Later, his own mother was forced to denounce Xi publically as he was brought before a crowd and labeled an enemy of the state. All of this before he was 15, when his father was sent to prison (Xi wouldn’t see him for four years) and Xi was ordered to work in the countryside.

He hated rural life and ran away to Beijiing, but he was soon arrested as a deserter and sent to a work camp, where he was forced to dig ditches. Later (it seems like a transition is needed here, but none given) he became Party branch secretary.

He did then work his way up through the system, even staying with a family in Muscatine, Iowa for a couple of weeks as part of a delegation to study U.S. agriculture. (When he could have stolen the latest soy bean seeds or processing secrets and shuttled them off to Brazil, inciting the current trade war, who knows?)

Being a good Party man, he spent four years studying Marxist philosophy and got a Doctor of Law covering not only law, but also politics, management and revolutionary history. Supposedly. Commentators have “questioned this qualification”. Another odd thing: a few months before ascending to the Party leadership in 2012, Xi disappeared for weeks. Nope, he was not out walking the Appalachian Trail, wink, wink. It was hinted that he used the time to install political allies in key roles, and The Washington Post said he may have been hurt in a fight during a meeting that turned violent.

Xi came to power on an anti-corruption platform. Ironically, he was voted in as ruler-for-life in February.

June 21 – Benazir Bhutto
Prime Minister of Pakistan 1998-2000 and 1993-1996

June 21 – Benazir Bhutto

Although she was assassinated in 2007, Bhutto would otherwise turn 65 this month and certainly deserves a mention for her extraordinary life.

Against the norms of the time and place, Benazir’s education was encouraged by the father she idolized, and her first language was English. He came from a wealthy political family, and became Pakistan’s foreign minister when Benazir was nine. She was exposed to numerous foreign diplomats including Henry Kissinger and Hubert Humphrey. When Benazir was 13, her father resigned from the government to re-emerge a year later as the founder of his own political party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). With the motto “Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy. All power to the people,” it attracted adherents with a populist strategy.

Benazir attended Harvard in the U.S. and then Oxford in England. These were happy times for her, although two young men Benazir proposed to at Oxford declined her hand. Then her father was overthrown in a military coup and eventually put to death after being found guilty of murder by a kangaroo court.

Benazir returned home and agreed to an arranged marriage (knowing she’d be more acceptable to religious conservatives). Her father had become increasing ly popular, attracting a crowd of a million for one of his releases from prison before the regime found him too powerful to let live.

The first woman elected to high office in a Muslim country, Benazir continued Pakistan’s nuclear program promoted by her father and advocated for women’s rights. Her secularist and modernizing agenda wasn’t always popular with Pakistan’s Islamists, and she was accused of being corrupt and inexperienced. Nevertheless, she was domestically popular and was upheld by Western nations as a champion of democracy. She was campaigning for another termwhen she was assassinated.

Source: Wikipedia

FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

When Are You Too Old for College?

When Are You Too Old for College?

Allan Stewart spoke at his college graduation in 2012. He extolled the lasting friendships to be made, thanked family and friends for their support, and advocated for lifelong learning. Allan Stewart was 97 years old. The retired dentist was getting his fourth degree, a Masters of Clinical Science. You can watch Stewart speak at his graduation below:

Stewart isn’t the only, or oldest, person to get a degree. Twila Boston graduated from Utah State University with a bachelors in American Studies when she was 98. “It was expected of us in our family to get an education,” Boston says, but life intervened so her degree was delayed. Her advice for anyone: "Go out in whatever you want, in whatever you want to do the rest of your life.”

Then there’s Nola Ochs, who bagged a degree in general studies at age 95, graduating alongside her granddaughter. Not satisfied with just an undergraduate diploma, Ochs went on to earn her master’s degree in history at age 98. She, better than anyone, could tell classmates what it was like to live through the Great Depression, two World Wars and a host of other events.

Finally, we present Leo Plass, who dropped out of college in 1932 at the age of 20 to work in the logging industry. He says the pay was just too good to pass up at the time, but he never forgot about his scholarly aspirations. Plass earned his associates degree from East Oregon University at the age of 99.

Many communities offer free classes for older adults, or allow you to audit classes without cost. Your local library may have a program to get you up to speed on technology, or take a class in Word at your community college. No excuses. None of the people listed above learned about the internet in high school! When are you too old for college? Never.


10 Oldest People to Earn a Degree,”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ten Ways to Look Younger Than You Are

Ten Ways to Look Younger Than You Are

No one wants to admit it, but almost all of us want to shave off some years, and there are more options than ever for cheating time.

Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself someone posted on social media and given a little gasp? If you don’t feel old, why the heck do you look like someone tossed you in the dryer and forgot to push the “wrinkle control” button? You can certainly embrace your wrinkles and gray hair as badges of participation in the journey, but if you want to explore your options, we’ve got some ideas.

Fitness First

Before we get to the quicker, easier methods for erasing some years, let’s get to the most important one: getting fit. If cross training and interval sessions are already in your arsenal, skip this section. But the single most vital thing to make you feel younger, make your body last longer, improve your outlook and yes, look more youthful, is to get in shape.

Check with your insurance provider to see if you’re one of many eligible for the Silver Sneakers Medicare program. Silver Sneakers offers free gym membership, special classes, online workouts and many other benefits that have the added bonus of a like-minded community to keep you motivated. Not only will you look younger, but joints will stabilize and balance will improve.

If you don’t qualify for Silver Sneakers, check if your local gym has a senior discount. There are hundreds of ways to get your body moving, and a workout can be as simple as opening the front door for a walk. Exercising helps tone all your muscles, including your heart. You’ll gradually breathe easier, have more endurance and be able to take on greater challenges. You may lose weight, or transfer weight from fat to muscle. Either way, you’ll feel and look better!

To get started, check out this article on getting in shape after 50.

Hydration Matters

 Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day, especially while you’re working out. Your skin is the last organ that water reaches. Inadequate water intake can dry out skin, so drink about eight glasses a day to support a healthy, glowing complexion. For an added boost, apply a product containing hyaluronic acid to your skin before you put on moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its weight in water to plump up your skin.

To Gray, or Not to Gray, That is the Question

Is it distinguished, or just frumpy? You can choose to rock that gray and wear it with pride, and you’ll have plenty of company. But what if you’re not ready yet, or your job demands a more youthful appearance, or you’re sticking a toe in the dating waters and want to have a little more confidence?

Before you hit up the hairdresser for a dye job, you can try a temporary, natural solution at home. Tea can turn those gray hairs back to their original hue. Black tea makes a brown color, or use chamomile for blond hair or rooibos for redheads. Make a strong solution with several teabags, let it cool and apply it to clean, wet hair. The longer you leave it in, the stronger the color will be. Weekly applications will do the trick. Brunettes can try a strong brew of coffee, adding spent grounds to intensify the color.

For a longer-lasting change that you can do yourself, try shampooing out your gray hair with Control GX. It gradually restores pigment through repeated use.

If your gray is mainly at your temples, or sparsely sprinkled through your hair, getting highlights may be your best option. They’re fairly low maintenance, and you can keep the color fresh with a color-preserving shampoo and conditioner. Another option is to get your roots lightened to make sparse gray hairs less noticeable.

Finally, you can get a complete color process at a salon that will last for weeks, except for regrowth. Roots will appear after about ten days, and you’ll need to touch them up. A little concealer touch-up spray will do the trick until your next visit.

Wrinkle City

You can exercise wrinkles right out of your face, according to Marja Putkisto of Method Putkisto, a company that developed a regimen for tightening the muscles of your face and neck to improve your appearance. As an added benefit, better circulation should enhance the look of your skin. Read more about it here.

How to Get a Younger Mindset

An age-conscious society drives older adults to look youthful, but have you considered whether or not you are thinking young? It’s both a science and an art, and can lead to happier outcomes than the trimmest, smoothest physique. Better yet, you can get started today and see immediate results!

Following are simple prompts to encourage youthful thinking:

  • Try something new. It’s rumored that Eleanor Roosevelt challenged herself to do something scary every day. Venture out of your comfort zone in big ways or small. Laugh at yourself on the dance floor, or listen to an unfamiliar music genre. Trying new things with an attitude of joyfulness raises your dopamine and energy levels.
  • Educate yourself. Audit a class at your local college, or check out your library or community center for programs. Take a painting or drawing class, even if you’ve been told in the past you have no talent. Learn an instrument. Join a travel tour, or take a trip to a foreign country.
  • By volunteering your time, you’ll focus on something bigger than yourself and increase your resilience. Deliver banana bread to your neighbor or walk dogs for a shelter. When you give, you bring purpose to your life and make your own concerns seem smaller.
  • Be mindful. Being mindful means living in the moment that is happening now. Paying attention to the moment lowers stress and maintains cognitive flexibility. You can’t worry about next month’s car payment or what might (or might not!) happen to Cousin Ed if you are concentrating on the here and now. Try adding meditation to your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

For further encouragement, read this Big Think piece on how your mind-body connection determines how you age.

How much have you spent on wrinkle cream? Don’t put down one more penny unless it’s for Retin-A, which can improve skin texture, fade dark spots and wrinkles, and even help you retain collagen, which gives your skin firmness and elasticity. Although it’s only available with a prescription, there is plenty of strong science to support its use. Retin-A, the drug known generically as retinoic acid or tretinoin, shrinks dilated pores, improves cell turnover and reverses the damaging effects of sun exposure.

Deep wrinkles call for more intensive procedures. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for a complete consultation to discuss your options. The first process to consider may be Botox injections. The shots aren’t a permanent solution, but you’ll get results for months. The thin needle stings, but you should be able to continue daily activities.

Fillers are another option. You can use fat from your thighs or rear end, or use one of the commercial fillers on the market. Your doctor should be able to talk to you in detail about the pros and cons of each. These are not permanent fixes, but they will last months or years.

Laser surgery has become popular in recent years because of its safety record and quick recovery time. A vast array of laser types address different skin issues. Some work at the surface level, while others send their beams deeper into the skin to stimulate collagen and improve scar tissue. Go here to find what you need to know about a wide variety of laser procedures.

A mini facelift may be next on your roster of options. Your surgeon will tighten underlying muscles and skin in the lower third of your face, around your jaw. Sagging skin and jowls will disappear, along with deep wrinkles. Although it’s sometimes called a “weekend facelift,” that’s a misnomer. Recovery usually takes a week to 10 days, and swelling and bruising can last much longer. Read more about the mini lift procedure.

You may want a little more nipping and tucking than the mini lift provides. It’s common to combine a mini lift with another procedure to address a problem area. This might be a neck lift to remove saggy tissue from the chin to collar area, a mid facelift for your cheek region, a brow lift for a wrinkly forehead or a blepharoplasty around your eyes.

A full facelift is the mother of all wrinkle treatments. Your facial skin will be loosened up, stretched, trimmed and restitched. The underlying muscles are tightened and adjusted as well. Research your surgeon extensively. Ask for before and after photos (you want to finish with a natural look, not a surprised Barbie façade), and check the doctor’s credentials. You can find a board-certified plastic surgeon by visiting the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

One of the most frustrating things about considering cosmetology is not being able to compare prices. No one wants to call 20 doctors to ask how much they charge, but just try to find published prices. Until this changes, there’s Denver’s Happy Clinic Price List. People travel to this modern clinic from all over the country for a wide variety of cosmetic procedures. You can view their charges right on your computer and get a good idea of what you can expect to pay locally and the types of treatment that are available.

Fat Free

There are reasons you gain weight as you get older. Small consolation, but true. Even if you weigh exactly the same as when you were 20, the percentage of fat is greater when you’re 70. That’s because we lose muscle cells as we age. The best way to combat this loss is exercise, which works even in our 80s and 90s. Check out this article on National Public Radio to find out how muscle toning works.

If you’re still convinced you want a quick fix, there’s a new alternative to liposuction. Yes, you can go to a surgeon and have them jab a suction rod in your fat over and over, or give coolsculpting a try. Instead of sucking out fat cells, coolsculpting freezes some of your fat cells to death. A device sucks your fat roll between two clamps that lower the temperature of this section of your body until it kills off 20-25 percent of the fat cells in that area. The cells don’t regenerate, according to the company, and it doesn’t affect untreated areas. At about $200 a treatment, it’s worth a look.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors